The jazz pianist Herbie Hancock turns 80


I.Is Herbie Hancock the rightful heir to Miles Davis or is he just his heir? Miles Davis himself answered the question on which the spirits of jazz differ. Herbie Hancock is the only one of forty-five pianists who has been able to stand with John Coltrane’s most influential jazz musician of the past half century for more than three years. However, Hancock also aroused his mentor’s envy. Because the success Miles Davis had wanted to force with a younger audience since “In a Silent Way” at the end of the 1960s with his turn to electronically pimped funk jazz, Herbie Hancock recorded the album “Head Hunters” very cool for himself a little later. Herbie was apparently able to reap what Miles sowed.

But it is not that simple. Herbie studied with Miles what you could read in the gigantic pool of musicians of the silent magician from East St. Louis from his cryptic musical note boxes instead of from meticulously noted arrangements. But in this second great Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock’s membership fee was also substantial for the band. Without the pianist’s masterly sound, some of the new sounds would surely have gotten stuck in Miles Davis’ stuffed trumpet.

Therefore, the reverse would also be possible: Herbie sowed what Miles could still reap with the inclusion under the title “Bitches Brew”. In any case, the witch’s brew of the top class of 1969 was a premonition of everything that the following generations, who were to grow up with computers, mobile phones, digitalization and electronic equipment, would probably recognize as their acoustic world.

Herbie Hancock had an unmistakable flair for all upcoming trends and whatever was hip. From the beginning, he has been much more than a grand pianist and composer of songs that, when hardly written, have already become standards. Hancock is the modern musician as a sound engineer. This can be seen from each of his bubbly recordings, which has been bubbling up since the early 1970s, from the pianistic equipment that was lifted onto the stage in the studio and at concerts. “Head Hunters” had two synthesizers, an electric piano and a hybrid piano. At “Sunlight” four years later there were, in addition to the electric piano and a Hohner D 6 Clavinet, no less than nine different synthesizers for lots of bubbling noises and booming electronic beats. Hancock is depicted on the back of the record cover, surrounded by his instruments with eleven manuals, which only a human octopus could have sounded appropriate. The highlight in 1980 was the disco album “Monster”, on which Hancock added sixteen electronic keyboards and a grand piano.


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